Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Bambies in Jerusalem

The sign reads "Welcome to the Valley of the Gazelles,
a municipal and communal nature site" (Photo: Wikipedia)

Wildlife is not the first thing that pops into my mind when I hear Jerusalem. In fact, Zafrir Rinat writes in Ha'aretz, the Holy City is home to an
abundance of wild animals, which find an assorted variety of niches in Jerusalem, [and] bring nature into the city.
Most astonishing to me was learning about the "Valley of the Gazelles" (עמק הצבאים), a 205 dunam park in the middle of Jerusalem, home to a family of 20 plus gazelles.

Photo by Jeff Finger, who has more pictures and information
(in English) about this wonderful park

Preserving this park has not been easy, as it is prime land for development. Between 2000 and 2004, environmental and social activists cooperated to thwart plans to turn the park over to commercial developers ("עמק הבצבאים," Wikipedia). This struggle united members of the Democratic Mizrahi Rainbow (הקשת הדמוקרטית המזרחית) and the Nature Protection Society (החברה להגנת הטבע), among others.

In Jerusalem, Rinat reports, environmental activists have also been joined by yeshiva students and citizens from the ultra-Orthodox communities. The writer notes, however, that "one element is noticeably absent from the environmental activities in Jerusalem" - the representation of Arab residents from Jerusalem's eastern part. "Such cooperation," Rinat argues,
is a must and can be arranged even if there is no agreement on the future borders of the city and its political fate. It is essential primarily for residents East Jerusalem residents, who are more exposed to environmental blights and to neglect. As in other cases in Israel, eastern Jerusalem's Arabs have remained invisible in the environmental campaign to preserve the city's image and shape its quality of life.
Thanks to Ima for the reference and title.

1 comment:

Peggy said...

A great short novel, set in Israel, is Smith's Gazelle, by Lional Davidson, who normally writes thrillers (the Chelsea Murders) and action/spy novels (e.g., the Rose of Tibet), sometimes with Jewish or Israeli or Cold War themes. (E.g., Making Good Again, about post-war Germany; the Menorah Men; the Sun Chemist). Penguin published them. Smith's Gazelle is the subtlest, the shortest (I think), and also his best. I recommend it to everyone as a really good read. Unfortunately, I pressed it on one friend (name now forgotten), who never returned it. But it is still available on Amazon.